I was poking around some nutrition and fitness sites today, and ended up looking into the The 5-Factor Diet of Harley Pasternak. I have no intention of going whole-hog with it, but he gives a very good blueprint for a healthy lifestyle. Under the 5-Factor, each meal should have five components:
- A lean protein. As I am vegetarian, this will come in forms like quinoa, tofu, legumes, and non-fat dairy rather than chicken, turkey, and seafood.
- A low-GI carbohydrate, or complex carbohydrate. Brown rice, vegetables, etc.
- Fiber. For me, this will generally be a side-effect of my protein and carb choices, like the beans, veggies, and whole grains.
- A healthy fat. Olive oil, almonds (actually, he says to avoid nuts, but that's mainly when he is talking about using them as a protein source), etc.
- Sugar-free beverage. Basically, water or tea. A diet soda or flavored water if you are feeling adventurous.
I'm not going to go with the "Use 5 ingredients" and "Prepare in 5 minutes or less" deals, because... well, I don't want to. I'm not doing the full 5-Factor plan, so why bother? And there's also some deal where you do it for 5 weeks. Pish tosh. This seems like a good set of guidelines to make sure I'm eating healthily so I can get down in weight and improve my cardio endurance and whatnot. It both fits into all of the meals I have come up with for when I am on super-natural kicks (like the quinoa and bean burritos I am obsessed with), and for when I am feeling a bit more indulgent (like the whole wheat tortellini w/ olive oil and parmesan I had for lunch). It acknowledges that protein is important for building muscle (which I constantly work on), and carbs for running (the point of this blog). Fiber is key for overall health, and counting fiber rather than calories is something I've already been working on as it is. And of course, the body actually does need fat to function properly.
I've come up with a list of various foods and snacks that I already do that fall within these guidelines, and I imagine that by simply adding a handful of almonds or some Triscuits and homemade hummus as a side, I can modify several more. It seems like a good way to make sure I'm getting everything I need, and also to make smarter choices and still feel special.